Redesigning Design Education



Design Education Strategy


  • globalisation, cultural influence, indigenous design


Note: A full reviewed paper was not submitted after the conference.

The last 15-20 years has seen an explosion in design awareness worldwide, with a concomitant restructuring of design education curricula. Increasingly, national innovation strategies are beginning to integrate design, art, social sciences and the humanities into their programmes, and there is a corresponding developing integration of the creative and social disciplines in the curricula of science and technology.

Most design disciplines in South Africa are currently represented in the curricula of the Universities of Technology and the Comprehensive Universities, with three of the traditional universities having a limited range of design programmes. The origins of the UoT’s in particular are to be found in the growth of the disciplines from old structures in the Colleges for Advanced Technical Education, and the limited view of design embodied in those earlier educational institutions’ curricula is still largely embedded in current curricula.

Design Education in South Africa is consequently largely out of line with international developments, and this needs to be urgently addressed.

National developments in design promotion will fail unless the educational institutions take on board the broader implications of design as a tool in the competitive global environment, and align themselves with international developments in design education. At the same time, the local context needs to be respected, and a balance needs to be found between global competitiveness and the enhancement of design in resolving local problems, and developing local markets.

At the Cape Peninsula University of Technology there are currently explorations underway to develop more comprehensive curricula, and to integrate the entire design education process into local and provincial government strategies for developing cultural and creative industries interventions into the very fabric of metropolitan Cape Town and the Western Cape.

This paper will present and explore an appropriate model for the region.

DEFSA conferences

DEFSA promotes relevant research with the focus on design + education through its biennial conferences, to promote professionalism, accountability and ethics in the education of young designers. Our next conference is a hybrid event. See above for details.

Critical skills endorsement

Professional Members in good standing can receive a certificate of membership, but DEFSA cannot provide confirmation or endorsement of skills whatsoever. DEFSA only confirm membership of DEFSA which is a NPO for Design Education in South Africa (